Stem Cell Agency Will Evaluate Grant Applications Privately
A committee that will recommend which researchers should receive grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine met on Tuesday in San Francisco, KQED's "The California Report" reports. The committee is composed of patient advocates and scientists from outside California (Varney, "The California Report," KQED, 11/28).
CIRM was created in 2004 when California voters approved Proposition 71. The measure provides $3 billion over 10 years for stem cell research (California Healthline, 11/28).
The grants could be worth as much as $80 million over four years. CIRM is expected to announce decisions on the applications by April 2007 (California Healthline, 11/16).
CIRM has received 232 proposals for 30 grants in the current round of applications, KQED reports.
According to CIRM President Zach Hall, the intent of the current selection process is to attract new ideas and scientists to the field for projects ranging from biology to engineering. In addition, Hall said the committee will meet "behind closed doors to evaluate whether the proposed research answers a critical scientific question" and whether the scientist and not-for-profit organization are qualified to conduct the research proposed.
John Simpson, stem cell project director at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said that CIRM should release the names and scientific scores of applicants to "enhance the public's faith in the idea that something is being done correctly." However, Hall said the committee is following NIH protocol to elicit the "most candid opinion" from reviewers on the committee.
The state committee is expected to make recommendations to CIRM's board in February 2007 ("The California Report," KQED, 11/28).
Audio of the segment is available online.